Matthew 15:8-20 – “honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me”

Rules without Relationships lead to Rebellion. Relationships without Rules lead to Recklessness. The religious leaders in the days of Jesus had created many rules and restrictions in order to ensure proper cleanliness and holiness to commune with God. Yet Jesus was saying that these rules and restrictions have actually excessively pushed people away from God. Having a relationship with God is not meant to be difficult. A relationship with God is meant to be relieving and restful and a place to find hope and peace. It’s not about being perfect before you can earn the privilege of talking with God. God wants us to come to Him no matter where we are at. It’s not about the rules, it’s about the relationship. Now as the relationship continues, God desires for you to change your actions, words, and thoughts to be more and more like Him. This comes as you spend time with God. Jesus was saying that these religious leaders had the rules down, but their hearts weren’t in it. They knew how to look and act holy, but they cared more about following the rules than the person behind the “rules.” Rules aren’t necessarily bad. Rules keep us from making major mistakes. God has our best interest in mind. Rules aren’t there to harm us, but there to help us. Any relationship without clearly defined boundaries and expectations are relationships headed for recklessness and ruin. But rules without a relationship will lead anyone to want to eventually jump ship because there’s no reason behind the rules. God wants us to honor Him with our lips and with our hearts. God wants you to follow His commands and guidelines but He wants your heart first. God wants you to come to Him just as you are and then you and He will work on the details.

Prayer Starter: God, I thank You that You do not require perfection. I am grateful that I can come to You just as I am. I know that You have some areas where You want me to change such as _____________________. I will admit that I’m not always good about liking Your commands and guidelines, but I can trust that You do so because You care about me. Help me to enjoy our relationship and focus not so much on the “rules” as much as my heart simply desires to be close to You. Then I know my heart will desire what Your heart already desires from me.

You’re reading a devotion from the Easter Devotional Plan 2016. For the rest of the 40 day plan, visit here.